Sunday, March 08, 2009

Never On A...Shabbat? Or Maybe Yes?

The New York Times reports on the Bukharian murder trial with Dr. Mazoltuv Borukhova accused of her husband's murder and highlights the role of Jewish religious observance as regards the Sabbath which is a bit complicated.

The short version:

Dr. Borukhova, who has a penchant for recording herself, had testified that she went to Spy Shops in Manhattan the night before the killing to buy a $700 video camera that can be concealed inside a coat button.

It was a Saturday. So, she said, she asked the shopkeeper to stay late so that she could come after the Sabbath ended at sundown.

“You take the rules of the Sabbath seriously?” the prosecutor, Brad Leventhal, asked.

“Unless it’s an emergency.”

Waving a page of phone records that showed she called the shop on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Leventhal shouted, “Was calling the spy shop at 2:33 in the afternoon an emergency?”

“Yes, sir,” Dr. Borukhova said.

“It dealt with your health?” he asked. “Your family’s health?”

“No,” she replied.

“So maybe you’re not as religious as you claim to be,” he snapped.

But that's just part one.

Here's part two:

Justice Hanophy...shocked the defense lawyers by ordering them to sum up their cases the next morning — Friday — ...If summations could wait until Monday to give all sides equal time to prepare, the defendants could promise that if the jury reached a verdict on Friday or Saturday, they would to break the Sabbath to hear it...But in the end, the Sabbath remained holy.

Friday morning, Justice Hanophy declared the deal off: Working on the defendants’ sacred day, he worried, could be grounds for an appeal...Dr. Borukhova seemed pleased. As she headed back to Rikers, well before sunset, she smiled at Mr. Scaring, and at her sister Sofia Borukhova.

“Shabbat shalom,” Sofia said, wishing her a peaceful Sabbath.

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